Zouhair Yahyaoui

Zouhair Yahyaoui

Blog: http://www.tunezine.com/
Location: Tunis, Tunisia
36° 48' 33.426" N, 10° 10' 24.024" E
Status: Deceased
Arrested between 04 Jun 2000 and 18 Nov 2003
Campaign Site: http://www.tunezine.com/

On June 4, 2002, Zouhair Yahyaoui—the founder of TUNeZINE—was arrested at a Tunis cybercafé by six plainclothes officers, who accompanied him home and seized his computer files. He was quickly charged and later convicted of intentionally publishing false information and using a stolen network connection. In July 2002, his verdict was confirmed by an appeals court but his sentence reduced to 24 months.

Yahyaoui was initially charged on June 20, 2002 by the Tribunal de Première Instance in Tunis but did not attend the hearing, declaring that he "did not trust a justice that followed orders [from above]." He was charged with "publishing information known to be untrue" under article 309 of the Tunisian Penal Code, but was later sentenced to a total of 28 months for "propagation of false news," and for non-authorized usage of an Internet connection" and "theft from an employer." His sentence was later reduced to 24 months.

According to a report from the Committee to Protect Journalists, after his release, Yahyaoui recalled being "hung from the ceiling, naked except for a pair of underwear, and beaten ... kicked, slapped, and punched." Yahyaoui waged several hunger strikes during his imprisonment, totaling 105 of the 531 days of his sentence.

Yahyaoui was released on November 18, 2003 after serving nearly 18 months in prison.

On Sunday, March 13, 2005, Yahyaoui died of a heart attack in Tunis. Though the site closed down shortly after his death, a page on TUNeZINE still exists in his honor.

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